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Monday, September 05, 2005

On the Louisiana Front Line

I got back here 24 hours ago – 1:30 a.m. after a run to Baton Rouge with relief supplies for victims of Hurricane Katrina (I feel like I have jet lag I should not have taken a nap this afternoon because I'm awake now).

A Sugar Land lady was kind enough to donate supplies to fill my van. I figured the supplies piling up here wouldn't reach there for some time and I wanted to check it out and get the goods as close to the scene as possible.

Interstate I 10 runs from Houston to New Orleans, right to the point where it goes underwater. The road was in good shape - no downed trees or sign of damage.

But I heard enough on Louisiana radio to make your hair stand on end - stories about people trying to help who were turned away during the critical hours of need. I'll address those in a separate Global American series article.

I delviered my load to a church in Baton Rouge whic is the staging area just outside New Orleans. From their reaction you would have thought I'd delivered an 18-wheeler full of goods. U.S. Marshall's were sleeping on the floor and going out on 4 hour shifts to provide protection.

A guy came in with a 64 year old lady he'd brought in from New Orleans. I offered to bring her to Houston but they were looking for something there.

On the way back I encountered a group of evacuees at the Texas rest stop just inside the border at midnight - they were in a group of yellow school buses and were being fed by volunteers at that hour! A pickup was full of rescued dogs taking a break. Everyone looked tired. Despite the crowd it was very quiet.

The overhead highway signs down the road said: "Houston closed to evacuees. Divert ot Ft Chaffee Arkansas." My God, I thought. That's another 9 or more hours on the road in unairconditioned school buses. Houston has 250,000 of them and so they are being spread out.

I'll be going back to try to do some more.

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